Ariana + Thomas by Samantha Everly

We were fast friends who thought highly of one another and thought the other was cute/attractive, but we stayed friends until 2016, when Tommy finally confessed his feelings for Ari. The rest is history!

Tell us a little about yourselves, what you do, what you love…

We live in Chicago with our dog, Murphy, and two cats, Luna & Miku. We both work in tech – Ari is in marketing, and Tommy is in product. We are passionate about our family, spending quality time together, exploring, enjoying & eating our way through Chicago, attending live music events, cooking & baking and travelling (the country and the world!).

How/where/when did you meet – and what were your first impressions?

In typical college fashion, we met at a party “pregame” before going out with some now – mutual friends, some of whom were at our wedding party! That evening sparked a 3-year friendship, which entailed swapping music, attending festivals and events together with friends, and Tommy teaching Ari how to play beach volleyball. We were fast friends who thought highly of one another and thought the other was cute/attractive, but we stayed friends until 2016, when Tommy finally confessed his feelings for Ari. The rest is history!

When did you first realise that this was someone you’d like to spend the
rest of your life with?

Ari: When I started to envision having a family with him after previously never wanting children.

Tommy: When we were long distance and I realized Ari was my best friend, being with her was easy, when she left there was a hole/gap and I pushed to take the next step (at that time, moving to Chicago together and getting our first apartment).

Was there a proposal? Tell us a little about it…

Yes! Tommy planned a secret proposal on the shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago. He had both sides of our family fly out (from California, New Jersey and Denver) and had a photographer hiding behind a tree to capture the moment! He proposed on a warm Thursday evening in early June, and we got to spend the rest of the weekend celebrating with our family and friends.

Tell us about the vision you had for the mood or style of your wedding.

From the bride: We wanted our wedding to not only be the best party we had ever attended, but also one that felt authentically “us.” That meant just the right amount of elegance and polish, without feeling too stuffy – because at the end of the day, we love to party! We envisioned our dance floor being packed all night long, which is why we decided to hire a DJ with live instruments (saxophone, drums and electric violin) to make it feel like the ultimate dance party with hits from every era.

From the bride: Milwaukee is the city where we met, so when discussing the location of our wedding, we really did not consider any other place. It had to be Milwaukee. Anyone who has been knows it is a special little place, with true charm and character. Our chosen venue, The Grain Exchange, transports you back to a time in Milwaukee’s history that we did not experience but wanted to honour. We brought the event to the present day with modern touches like a custom, monogrammed dance floor, fun music and delicious food.

The reception space: The Grain Exchange, located in downtown Milwaukee, features soaring ceilings, beautiful granite, limestone, and sandstone, and is described, architecturally, as simple Italian. The room radiates the elegance and grandeur of a bygone era, and our expertise in food and hospitality presents a partnership that will create a memorable event for even the most discriminating critic.

What was one element you were happy to splurge on?

DJ/band hybrid (more info above); grand venue that makes you feel like you’re
not in the middle of downtown Milwaukee, custom dance floor

Did anything happen on your wedding day that you laugh about in hindsight (even if it was stressful at the time)?

The week leading up to our wedding, we were extremely stressed about the weather forecast – it didn’t look great. Many tears were shed. We tried to stay positive but it’s really hard to think about plans getting ruined over something you can’t control, when you spent so long trying to plan every detail perfectly! Although the day prior to our wedding, and the morning of, poured rain nonstop, it completely let up by the time we were en route to the church for our ceremony. Then, the moment after we finished reciting our vows, a sun ray came beaming through the stain glass windows of the church, like we were in a fairytale. It felt like a sign blessing our marriage, and also served as a reminder that together, it will all be okay in the end.

Tell us about your main outfits, what was unique, is there a story?

From the bride: My bridal look could be described as elegance with a bit of edge. I actually found my wedding shoes first, before any other part of my look, and picked my dress out based on the shoes. Nontraditional I know, but once I found the shoes, a pair of black Jimmy Choos with a bejeweled ankle collar, I knew I had to wear them for my wedding. My dress was sleek, and the waistband nodded to a cumberbund on a tux, and I chose to add an overskirt for a traditional “bridal” feel. Since my dress had an open back, I knew I wanted my hair in a sleek updo, with natural glam makeup. I chose a redtinted lip to match my bouquet of red roses. The final, finishing touch was my custom, cathedral veil with French Alencon lace edges.

From the bride: I had made an appointment at the bridal salon where I ultimately ended up saying “yes to the dress” but the weekend of my appointment, Chicago got a huge snowstorm. Our back parking lot is uncovered and my now-husband was out of town, so I wasn’t going to be able to dig our car out myself. I tried rescheduling the appointment but wasn’t able to because it was less than 24 hours notice. My maid-of-honor, who drives a VW sedan (aka, not the best car for snow!), just so happened to have a loaner car for the weekend because her car was in the shop – and the loaner car was an SUV. She would be able to drive us to the appointment – I was so relieved! However I honestly did not expect to find my dress that day. I tried on dress after dress and none of them felt like “it.” But finally, the last dress I tried on, I didn’t want to take off. There was something about it that felt so right. The moment they put the overskirt on, I knew this was “the one!” I ended up saying yes to that dress moments later. Things fall into place to pave the way for what is meant to be.

CEREMONY Church of the Gesu – Milwaukee, WI RECEPTION Grain Exchange Room – Milwaukee, WI, @bartolottas FLORIST Jane Kelly, @janekellyfloral PHOTOGRAPHER Samantha with Everly Collective, @everly.collective VIDEOGRAPHER Character D Films, @characterdfilms OFFICIANT The Church PLANNER Andrea G Evans, @andrea.g.evans; Events Toat, @eventstoat MAKEUP Jenna Hayes, @jennahayes3 HAIR The Hitching Post, @thpweddings BRIDAL DRESS Pronovias, @pronovias BRIDAL SHOP LBR Bridal, @lbrbridal BRIDAL PARTY DRESS Sachin & Baby, @sachinandbabi BRIDESMAID DRESS Mac Duggal, @macduggal; House of CB, @houseofcb; Black Halo, @blackhalo; JJsHouse, @jjshouseofficial